I was wondering if I have used the adverb 'à peine' correctly.

"Le weekend a passé tellement vite que j'ai l'impression d'avoir à peine eu un moment de repos."


The weekend went by so fast that I feel like I hardly got a moment to relax.

I'm not sure whether the adverb should go after the first or second conjugated verb.

  • Je does not follow the first person personal pronoun rule of English (I always; Je in the beginning of a sentence only).
    – Dimitris
    Nov 12, 2018 at 15:07
  • perfect, don't fret about it
    – user13512
    Nov 13, 2018 at 1:30

1 Answer 1


A_ This adverbial locution does not seem quite proper in this context, but this elusive feeling can be explained to a certain extent. The reason is that it is used to express a judgement relative to a point on a given scale and that the scale that is implied is not usual (but in principle not unreal).

  • time_ à peine 5 heure (it is not yet the time for going to bed)

  • size_ à peine 5 kilogrammes (it big for a turkey, but not too big)

  • age_ à peine quarante ans (that is not enough to call her old)

  • vitesse_ à peine à cinquante à l'heure (ils n'ont pas pu avoir un accident grave à cette vitesse)

You can apply it to "a while's rest" as you can consider "a while's rest" as a point on a scale (although not as nice a scale as those above) -- it'll have to be the scale of the possible durations of a resting period --

  • possible durations of a resting period_ à peine un moment de repos

B_ The place of the locution is without contest correct if right before what it modifies.

  • J'ai l'impression qu'il lui a été donné à peine une légère punition.

These next possibilities of placing it among the parts of the verb seem equally likely but they are objectionable as adverbs and adverbial locutions are modifiers of nouns, adjectives, and verbs.

  • Je crois qu'il a fini à peine son dessert. (He finished his dessert but not much of anything else.)
  • Je crois qu'il a à peine fini son dessert. (He's just finished his dessert.)
  • “Il a fini à peine son dessert” is weird (I didn't understand what you meant first). A better example would be “Il en est à peine à l'entrée”. Nov 12, 2018 at 17:56
  • @StéphaneGimenez « De tout les plats qui ont été servis il a fini à peine le dessert. Oh non! Il me semble qu'il a fini tous les plat et il a même repris du premier. » (seulement) It is such a context that I refer to; however, I do have some doubts, even more so as I see that you do have some too. It is nevetheless bizarre that if « seulement » is used as a replacement, which is most often possible, then that strangeness feeling disappears.
    – LPH
    Nov 12, 2018 at 18:09
  • “À peine” means “just now”/“only now” in these examples (in other cases it can mean “hardly”), but you try to confer them with the meaning of “only [something]”. That's also probably why I don't agree with the statement that the use in the OP's sentence is improper. It sounds natural to me. Nov 12, 2018 at 18:25
  • @StéphaneGimenez The OP says in his/her question that he/she is not sure (wondering) and so as I understand this feeling I say along with him that it does not seem to be proper but I add that it is only an impression and that I think my explanation can help to dissipate it. I do not assert that it should be improper. As regards the meaning "just now" I think it is not the one that applies here : à peine eu un moment de repos: n'avoir eu pas plus qu'un moment de repos, seulement un moment de repos alors que cela aurait pu être un jour complet ou même deux.
    – LPH
    Nov 12, 2018 at 18:41

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.